Yushchenko Associate Arrested for Embezzlement in Ukraine

KIEV, Ukraine -- Ukraine’s Interior Ministry has arrested politician Anatoly Zhukinsky, a supporter of President Yushchenko and head of the Ternopol regional council, for state property embezzlement on a particularly large scale, Lenta.ru reported Thursday.

An investigation of former top officials’ activities is currently in progress in Ukraine. However, Zhukinsky is the first politician from western Ukraine and from Viktor Yushchenko’s team to be detained. Those previously detained or examined were mostly from eastern Ukraine and also active supporters of Viktor Yanukovich, Ukraine’s ex-prime minister and candidate for the president’s post.

Zhukinsky was among those who managed Viktor Yushchenko’s election campaign and after its success helped establish a political network, the Gazeta daily reports.

Besides Zhukinsky, three more politicians from western Ukraine have been charged, among them Sergey Ryzhuk, the former head of the Zhitomir administration, and his deputy Anatoly Velechuk, who both allegedly bought private apartments with state money.

Meanwhile, an investigation of corruption in eastern Ukraine is also in progress. Nikolai Shvets, head of the Dnepropetrovsk regional council, arrived in Kiev on Tuesday for questioning. Shvets is charged with misusing a state-owned health resort in the Crimea. Although the opposition is inclined to see the case as a political one, Shvets says politics has nothing to do with it. “The Ministry just wants some details of my work as the head of the local administration,” he was quoted by Lenta.ru as saying.

The Interior Ministry complains that most officials summoned for questioning never turn up. This is why the Ministry has decided to declare them wanted, Lenta.ru added.

President Yushchenko came to power after the so-called Orange Revolution which was a response to perceived corruption in the former regime of Leonid Kuchma.